A BBC Sponsored Public Opinion Survey by the Globespan group has found openings for Israeli PR in the non-Western World.
The survey, conducted annually for the BBC, asked 24,090 people from 16 countries to rate countries from “mostly negative” to “mostly positive” on a scale. While Israel itself was rated, no one from the state of Israel was asked to rate other countries. Interviews were conducted either by phone or in person, depending on country.
While Israel’s favorability was rated most positive in the United States with 50% of participants viewing Israel very favourably, strong neutral or positive opinions were found in Nigeria (54% favourable), Kenya (49% favourable), India (54% neutral), Japan (52%) and Russia (49%).
As expected, The Islamic world viewed Israel in negative terms, led by Egypt (85% negative) and Indonesia (63%). The view was followed by Europe and Western Countries, with Canada (59%), France (65%), Great Britain (68%), Germany (69%) and Spain (71%) portraying negative viewpoints. The only countries with worse ratings then Israel were Iran, North Korea and Pakistan.
When asked to justify the ratings, citizens around the world viewed Israeli foreign policy (45% of participants) as a controversial factor. In contrast, Jewish traditions and culture were cited as the lead positive factor by participants.
The survey challenges Israel’s traditional Western-centric foreign policy, and finds openings for development of relations with other countries. In 2011, Israel’s main trade partners were with the United States and European countries, followed distantly by the Far East. In addition, Israel traditionally considers the Western bloc to be its closest ally, often relying on the block’s political power for support in bodies such as the United Nations. This survey finds an opening for Israeli advocacy in non-Western countries where Israel is viewed more favourably.